San Francisco

James Johnson

St. Mary's College

James Johnson is a hard-edge painter who often works with two panels. One such duo (in his show at St. Mary’s College) actually forms a trio of forms when brought together, the third member being parts of each panel which finally obscures the separation. The muted and harmonized colors are so balanced that the vibrant action which could obtain with some of the color relationships do not produce the expected after-image ghosts; for example, blue-purple-gray steps in one painting are contrasted with a brown-gray on the risers of these steps which hover right on the point where brown is almost greenish but also almost orangish, too. The stairway form can be read either way in space in the case of Promenade ’70, and the opposing stairway which is the same in reverse except in color and in relationship to a panel that thrusts toward asymmetry in the center, quietly adjusts to whichever opposite space.

Knute Stiles